Lone Wolf ...

I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings this morning, sitting at the back of my wife’s English class, trying as best I can to ignore what is going on around me and gather my thoughts.  We have an early lunch scheduled with friends and I find myself without enough time to go elsewhere.  Besides, this is my first opportunity to tryout my wife’s new MacBook Air and write somewhere other than in my familiar lair.  I can’t help wondering how this will workout.

I received an email yesterday of a complimentary nature, which of course is always encouraging to a writer.  More importantly he expressed an affinity with what he called my lone wolf mentality.  That gave me an idea of how to handle some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head for a while.  Sometimes one writes and then searches for a title to fit what has been written.  Then there are days like today, where one if gifted with a title that sets you on the path to a new blog post.

Though I consider myself a lone wolf of sorts I’m not sure anyone really starts out that way.  My early years were nothing unusual.  I lived in a quiet residential suburb, of a university town, with neighbors of a similar age to play with.  I walked or rode my bike to school, throughout both elementary school and junior high, which were conveniently located next to each other.  During that time a few friends moved away but there was a strong core of friends that spanned those years with shared interests, primarily sports.  Life was active and carefree with little need for thought or introspection.  Looking back it was a good solid childhood, though perhaps lacking in ethnic diversity.

That all changed when we moved to Hawaii.  Removed from my homogenized and familiar environment, I found myself a minority and alone, not surrounded by my friends, for the first time.  I began to question who I was and my relationship with others.  It was not long, however, before I had a girlfriend and a newly discovered interest in surfing and the ocean.  The group sports of my youth were replaced with the more solitary activities of surfing the shore break near home, sailing a small catamaran left parked on the beach, running on the sandy beach and hiking in the ridges and lush mountains of Hawaii.  Groups were never again to play a part in my life as girlfriends took center stage.

I never experienced living near my relatives but, until I was ten, we did visit both sets of grandparents each summer and that provided an opportunity to see and play with my cousins if only briefly and occasionally.  I suppose it should not feel strange now, having never lived near each other and not having seen each other for the better part of forty years, that the majority of my cousins have little or no interest in knowing who I have become.  Fortunately there are a few notable exceptions on my mother’s side.  Sure we might find that we have nothing in common but still I would find it interesting to see them again if only once.

I seem to remember little of my cousins but I can vividly recall the sites, sounds, smells and animals of my grandfather’s dairy farm.  Fishing in a small pond, riding horses of which there were two, mingling with a couple hundred cows as they were milked twice a day, building secret hideaways amidst the hay bails stacked in the barn and even images of the local dogs all seem fixed and unfaded in my mind’s eye.  The farm was a vast and amazing world in my youth but when revisited that one time after growing up, it seemed to have diminished considerably in both size and mystery.  These days I can go to Google Earth to checkout all the development in the area.  Things sure have changed.

Sadly my grandfather died when I was ten and my grandmother move to the city.  The farm held nothing for her with husband gone and four boys scattered from coast to coast.  It was only a few brief years later that we moved to Hawaii, further removing me from my idyllic childhood and what was once a possible life path.

Moving to Thailand further consolidated my path toward lone wolf status, as friends came and went with some regularity being posted elsewhere, while I remained in Bangkok to find new friends.  I have often wondered what it must be like to have close relations with both family and friends throughout ones life.  It is quite simply beyond my comprehension at this point.  Transient and impermanent relationships are all I have known.

One must remember there was no internet or Facebook back then and without proximity it was difficult, at least for me, to maintain relationships.  In time my self-reliance grew as did my feeling that needing people was a weakness.  As much as I might revel in a long animated discussion and enjoy the people I might be with, dependence on them has been something I have tended to avoided.

At this point I feel like I became a full fledged lone wolf.  I have met those who assume lone wolves to be socially inept, awkward and antisocial.  Many of us are actually quite gregarious and affable at times.  Not confined by the expectations of membership in any particular group, we are free to range widely and can be more open to strangers and new encounters than those with a fixed group of friends.  Our interests can be varied but seldom does any one topic hold our attention for any great length of time.

Though my wife has tamed the wolf in me and tempered my sometimes rough edges, I still cling to no one but her.  Friends come and go, some are missed and some are not.  For me a friend is someone who brings a smile to your face and makes the world feel a bit brighter and someone you look forward to seeing.  It seems to me, some people expect less of their friends than they do of others.  They overlook their shortcoming and forgive a multitude of sins, all in the name of friendship.  I feel that friendship carries the burden of not becoming a burden to others, though I understand that not to be a common position.

I want to make it clear that I am not touting my way of life as something to be emulated.  I’m just saying, being a lone wolf worked for me in Thailand, while it left me feeling a bit lonely and detached when in my own country.  From talking with others I have gotten the impression I am not alone in feeling more connected and less lonely in Thailand.  We are perhaps not as vocal as those who complain so loudly about all that is wrong with Thailand.  Maybe our expectations are different, making it easier to fit in here, while making it harder sometimes to fit in with the complainers or those who cling too tightly to the life they left behind, intent on replicating it here. 

I’m a lone wolf, not a recluse.  I often prefer to act alone but not to live a solitary life.  I am not a misanthrope, just independent self-reliant and a little picky about who I choose to share my time with.  In short I am a lone wolf and proud of it.